Letters

A Playwright Remembers

I was saddened to learn in the Spring issue that Tom Williams ’47 has died. Tom acted in a play, The Golden Cross, which I wrote as a student in Dr. Stabley’s Creative Writing class. Niki Blissell played opposite Tom, and Sam Campagna wrote original music for the play. Tom was excellent and went on to become a teacher and then a businessman. I lost touch with him, but I never forgot him and the others who participated in the production. What wonderful times those were.

Phyllis Gensbigler Roumm ’46 
Professor Emerita, IUP English Department
Indiana, Pa.

Welcomed with Open Arms

Published reports reveal that GIs of World War II are dying off at the rate of thousands every day. At eighty-six years of age, it would appear that I have caught up with my future. Now my future is measured in what tomorrow has in store. I don’t bemoan the prospect, since my yesterdays are filled with wonderful memories of places, events, and people that have enriched my life. Old photographs, a bit faded now, help recall those events that have shaped my life. 

Doubtless Indiana State Teachers College stands out as the seminal point of my educational experience. If it were not for the GI Bill, I would have taken “the path most traveled.”  ISTC welcomed us GIs with open arms. The college bought several rows of houses along the railroad tracks across the street from the power plant to accommodate us. We renamed the street GI Row.  I was housed in Cottage B with twelve other GIs. Many hands were offered to us and we accepted them gratefully.

We GIs had to buckle down immediately, since we were competing with classmates who were fresh out of high school and five to eight years younger than we. Soon we were dubbed DARs (Damned Average Raisers). Our teachers had great empathy for us when we were overcome with our war experiences. Through the composition and creative writing classes, we were given permission to confront our demons that haunted our dreams. For many of us it was a catharsis, an opportunity to objectify our inner feelings through the written word. Some of these writings were published in a small booklet entitled Indiana GI Writes: 1946-47. In his introduction to the booklet, Dr. Stabley wrote:  “The war stirred their emotions, shaped their senses, jolted their minds, and often shocked their sensibilities…their work struck us with its power and depth.” A profound change had occurred in us, and as teachers, I hope we had made a change in those we touched.

What a privilege it has been to walk the journey with so many ISTC friends. We have forged a bond that memories bind us together. For a while we had walked together along the crisscrossed paths under the Oaks, then each chose his or her own path to follow.  Hail to thee, old friends! You have become a part of me and I of you.

Hail to thee, Ol’ Alma Mater! You have taught me well.

Stephen S. Udvari ’49 
Madison, Wis.

‘Get a Degree,’ They Said

“I see this school as the genesis of everything that I really am, professionally and personally,” Dick Macedonia states in the Summer edition of IUP Magazine.

It is so easy to lampoon our education at IUP. Didn’t future success come from drinking Iron City beer out of quart bottles, spending long hours in the Student Union, and hiding from Dean Elwood Sheeder and the Selective Service?

I venture to guess that the majority in our class of 1966 were “dropped off with two shopping bags full of clothes.” However, we were ingrained with the idea from our parents and educators that we did not have to be a steel mill hunkie, coal miner, barber, butcher, or truck driver. “Get a degree,” they constantly drummed into our heads.

IUP Magazine has recently featured 1966 classmates Dave Wilson, Sam Mitrovich, Bill Rusnack, Dick Macedonia, and others. All seem to agree that success comes from hard work. 

But, more importantly, success comes from giving back to those who don’t even have “two shopping bags full of clothes.”

Ray Rutter ’66
June Hunter Rutter ’67
St. Louis, Mo.

Shattering Beliefs

Thanks for writing the article about Dick Macedonia. I was struck by his remark “...and I allowed myself to have a basic belief shattered...” which unleashed the culture change and programs he goes on to describe as “the catalyst for change in the organization.” I wonder what kind of personal coaching or training gives Mr. Macedonia that kind of self-awareness and vocabulary so badly needed by our corporate leaders today.

I am now consulting for change in businesses and organizations that like so many are failing because of big groups of smart, highly paid executives collectively not noticing the shifting sands under their feet. These sea changes catching everyone unawares include demographics (like generational or cognitive diversity, talent crunch, or quickly approaching mass Baby Boom Retirement in 2012), world commodities price fundamentals, environment and sustainability, technology and media, or, worse yet, the rise of BRIC markets as the future growth engine of consumer goods and culture products.

One of the most important first steps for change in a large, complicated, expensive corporate enterprise is just that very basic simple step of “changing beliefs” in the mind and heart of the first executive in charge. That is the right way to get the ball rolling. So many clients think that hiring change consultants or coaches will fix everybody else. The truth is that the leader has to experience fundamental change in him or herself in order to become the evangelist, model, and driver for change. The first step in the process is just what Mr. Macedonia so eloquently and profoundly described as “shattering a basic belief.”

Wow, such great reading for a Saturday morning. I am sure the Organizational Development Network or other professional associations in the change field would find his story interesting and useful as a conference speaker. He could join that circuit and bandwagon now that he is retired. The examples of CEOs who understand deep change are very, very few, which is obvious from the condition of our business sector and, unfortunately, our national employment prospects for the near future.

Brett Barndt ’83
New York, N.Y.